Sound mental health is about recognizing the self is composed of many different parts. We are not our jobs, our friends, our relationships, or our spirituality — we are the sum of all these parts. Happiness is all about nourishing the varied, equally important aspects of ourselves. Want to learn more? Keep on reading!
Understanding Sound Mental Health & Ways To Achieve It
In this article you’ll find:
- Defining Sound Mental Health
- Achieving Sound Mental Health Through Inner Peace
Defining Sound Mental Health
— Trees for Cities (@TreesforCities) January 17, 2018
In their 2001 World Health Report, The World Health Organization (WHO) defined positive mental health as “subjective well-being, perceived self-efficacy, autonomy, competence, inter-generational dependence and self-actualization of one’s intellectual and emotional potential, among others.”
In her work Current Concepts of Positive Mental Health Austrian-British social psychologist Marie Jahoda says that sound mental health is made up of six major categories:
- Positive attitude towards the self – characterized by high self-esteem and self-awareness
- Personal growth – desiring and working towards growth and self-actualization
- Integration – the synthesis of the first two: using positive traits to work towards personal goals
- Autonomy – relative independence from outside influences when making decisions
- A true perception of reality – not lost in delusions, demonstrates empathy and genuine concern for other people
- Environmental mastery (adaptability, healthy interpersonal relationships) – well adjusted, able to give and receive love and affection, ability to handle stress properly
Achieving Sound Mental Health Through Inner Peace
1. Rediscovering Silence
Before we attempt to understand and relate to others, it’s important for us to be attuned to our own voice. This could be difficult as we are surrounded by chaos and noise. If our fulfillment is hinged on understanding ourselves, how can we do that when we are surrounded by voices that keep telling us who we should be?
Tip: Practice sitting quietly every morning for at least 10 minutes. You will be surprised how being silent or quiet lessens stress and tension. Your mind is more relaxed because it replenishes your mental resources.
2. Listening to Your Inner Voice
A lot of people ask themselves these questions by exploring spirituality. While some might equate spirituality with some form of religion, that’s not necessarily what it is. Spirituality, simply put, is actively listening to your inner voice.
In our core, we need to feel like we belong. Your inner voice will tell you where you fit in the bigger picture that is the world.
Tip: Exploring spirituality doesn’t have to entail a drastic change in your lifestyle. It could begin by feeding your mind through reading. Reading can help you gain footing, and it will help you start somewhere. You can begin with a religious, philosophical, or even a self-help book. Not a big fan of reading? Try watching documentaries!
3. Practicing Meditation
Meditation is a very personal activity. At its core, it’s all about cultivating peace. People practice meditation to apply mindfulness in their day to day activities. There is a wide array of meditation to choose from, and each affects a particular area of the brain.
Do you worry a lot? Are you stressed? Meditation could help you free yourself from the repetitive negative thoughts that you might be indulging in on a daily basis.
Tip: Want to meditate but not sure where to begin? Set a time and a place. You may feel awkward and uncomfortable doing it the first time, but the more you do it, the better you get at it. The key is to set an appointment with yourself.
4. Finding Fulfillment, Restoring Peace
Working towards inner peace will help you unlock your true potential. It will require you to momentarily distance yourself from stressors. The process of restoring peace also requires certain tools that you could use to manage stress and worry. These coping tools could also help you overcome fears that could limit your potential.
Tip: In order to get the tools you need to overcome stress, you need the momentary reprieve from stress. You need to fully disconnect for a certain period of time. Some people read books to achieve this, while others opt to enroll in residential training workshops.
5. Handling Stress and Suffering
How we react to stress says a lot about how we see the world. Do you see it as a temporary setback that we have to encounter to reach your goals? Is suffering so constant and imminent that it’s sucking out the joy in your life? Only you can answer these questions. Part of self-awareness is being open to seeking professional help when the burden gets too heavy to bear.
Tip: Take note of the little things. What are the main sources of stress in your life right now? What are the things that cause anxiety and fear? On the other hand, what are the things/activities that calm you down? What are the dreams and aspirations that make all the hardships worth it? Jot your reflections in a journal.
6. Finding Balance
In this society, there is pressure to prioritize and weigh the importance of one aspect of your life over the other. Part of nourishing your spirituality is recognizing the interconnectedness of the different parts of your life. It is a daily balancing act, one that is more achievable with practice.
Points To Ponder: Are you getting enough sleep? Are you eating fresh, healthy food? Do you have a creative/intellectual outlet? Do you enjoy fulfilling relationships with people in your life? Is your career something that brings you joy? Part of living a balanced life is not neglecting one for the other.
7. Cultivating Healthier Routines
Nurturing your spirituality means acknowledging the importance of keeping your body, mind, and soul satisfied. For example, our efforts to further our careers should be equal to the effort that we put in to maintain our social connections. The moment we strive to achieve balance, things in our lives will start to feel less like work, and more like the pleasurable endeavors that play a part in the bigger picture.
Points To Ponder: Sometimes, it’s hard to see the forest in between the trees. If things get too confusing, or if you’re lost in the sentences within your life’s narrative, a little help might be in order. Is there a trusted friend you can talk to? A therapist might be able to give valuable input. Maybe you can join a retreat with like-minded people who are on the same introspective journey? The choices are endless!
8. Being a Positive Force in the World
To paraphrase Albert Hummond, Jr., we all have the desire to leave the world a better place than how we entered it. That is a big part of spirituality: looking for a unique way to give back or to contribute to the betterment of your immediate surroundings. There is no contribution too little, especially when it’s done with genuine joy and love. Whether you want to give back by finding a career that directly helps other people, by taking advantage of volunteering opportunities, or by taking great care in reducing the waste you put out into the world, it helps nourish your inner desire to do something that matters.
Points To Ponder: What are the things you wish you could do? What limits you? What do you think stops you right now from achieving peace? Answering these questions could help you be the best version of yourself.
Having a sound mental health is dependent on the habits that we keep. Watch this TedxTalk by Amy Morin below:
We are multifaceted creatures. Our life is composed of different parts. Mental health is the sum of these parts. We need to nourish every part of ourselves and find the balance in everything.
Do you have other tips for achieving a sound mental health? Share it in the comments section below.